Tal­iban video up­date

The Washington Times Weekly - - National Security -

The com­man­der of an Army unit in­volved in com­bat op­er­a­tions in east­ern Afghanistan is chal­leng­ing a re­cent re­port by the Open Source Cen­ter, first re­ported in this space last week, that an­a­lyzed a Tal­iban pro­pa­ganda video sup­pos­edly about the pitched Oct. 3 bat­tle be­tween U.S. forces and the Tal­iban at a re­mote com­bat out­post (COP) near Kamdesh in east­ern Afghanistan.

The bat­tle led to the deaths of eight U.S. sol­diers and came days be­fore U.S. forces aban­doned the out­post in a planned re­de­ploy­ment.

“The video in ques­tion does not con­tain one sec­ond of film footage from the ac­tual at­tack on COP Keat­ing,” said Army Lt. Col. Robert B. “Brad” Brown, com­man­der of the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cav­alry Reg­i­ment, 4th Bri­gade Com­bat Team, 4th In­fantry Divi­sion, based in For­ward Op­er­at­ing Base Bo­stick in Ku­nar prov­ince.

The Nov. 30 re­port by the Open Source Cen­ter, part of the Of­fice of the Di­rec­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence, stated that the Tal­iban video pur­ported to show com­bat video of the cap­ture by the in­sur­gents of a U.S. mil­i­tary base “in the Kamdesh district” of Nuris­tan prov­ince. The nar­ra­tor of the video men­tions “Kamdesh” but does not give a date for the pur­ported at­tack.

The cen­ter ’s re­por t, Col. Brown stated in an e-mail to In­side the Ring, was “based on grossly flawed re­ports.”

Col. Brown said the at­tack se­quences ap­par­ently were spliced to­gether from video of an ear­lier Tal­iban at­tack on an­other base, COP Low­ell in Kamu, Nuris­tan prov­ince. Based on the flow of the river shown in the video, the time frame prob­a­bly was July, he said, adding that un­like the COP Keat­ing at­tack, there were no U.S. ca­su­al­ties re­quir­ing med­i­cal evac­u­a­tion.

“The se­quences of in­sur­gent leaders ‘tour­ing’ a U.S. COP were taken more than a year ago on COP Ly­bert near Gow­erdesh, Nuris­tan,” Col. Brown said.

Col. Brown said an Army unit that his group re­lieved in June — the 6th Squadron, 4th Cav­alry Reg­i­ment, 3rd Bri­gade Com­bat Team, 1st In­fantry Divi­sion — with­drew from that out­post as part of a repo­si­tion­ing of forces to within a bri­gade area. “It was not in any way ‘taken,’ “ Col. Brown said. “The large box with ‘Ly­bert’ spray-painted on it should have been a clue.”

Col. Brown, who has been to both COP Keat­ing and COP Low­ell, said he re­viewed the Tal­iban video and feels cer­tain that none of the footage came from the ac­tual Oct. 3 at­tack on Keat­ing.

“The COP Ly­bert footage has been ‘re­leased’ [by the Tal­iban] sev­eral times un­der dif­fer­ent ti­tles — in each case, an­a­lysts have re­por ted the de­tails through ap­pro­pri­ate chan­nels,” he said, not­ing that “ap­pro­pri­ate chan­nels” were in­formed about the cen­ter’s anal­y­sis of the pro­pa­ganda video and were ex­pected to in­form the cen­ter.

Col. Brown said he con­tacted In­side the Ring not to crit­i­cize the Open Source Cen­ter but to cor­rect the record.

Spokes­men for the DNI, which is re­spon­si­ble for the cen­ter, de­clined to com­ment.

Col. Brown said even a cur­sory anal­y­sis of the video by some­one fa­mil­iar with the com­bat po­si­tions would have re­vealed the Tal­iban lies. He noted that if the cen­ter had done a ba­sic study of the pro­pa­ganda video, the agency would have rec­og­nized it as “ham-fisted pro­pa­ganda.”

An Army spokes­woman in Afghanistan, Maj. Vir­ginia A. McCabe, deputy pub­lic af­fairs of­fi­cer with the Com­bined Joint Task Force-82 and Re­gional Com­mand East, said of the Tal­iban video that it “was in­con­clu­sive re­gard­ing where or when in­sur­gents got the items” they claimed to have cap­tured, in­clud­ing a U.S. au­to­matic as­sault ri­fle shown in the video.

“Be­fore de­part­ing the lo­ca­tion, the units re­moved all sen­si­tive items and ac­counted for them,” she said.

Maj. McCabe said the Army in­cor­po­rates “com­mu­ni­ca­tion ac­tions and con­cerns into all our op­er­a­tions.”

“The Tal­iban uses com­mu­ni­ca­tion tied with bru­tal­ity to in­tim­i­date and con­trol peo­ple and doesn’t worry about facts when dis­tribut­ing its mes­sages,” she said.

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